Thinking that the cost-of-living crisis means your business needs to focus solely on surviving? It doesn’t have to be this way.
With the rising inflation and soaring energy prices, it’s understandable if you’re planning on waiting until the storm passes before looking for new ways to grow your business. However, this time could be a chance to truly understand what’s important to you as a business, what you’re good at, and what you want to focus on in the future.
Unexpected and unpredictable situations like the cost-of-living crisis often force companies to be flexible and adapt to trends. This was exactly what happened back in 2020, when we saw the mass adoption of remote and hybrid working; a way of working that served an initial purpose when we all had to stick to social distancing, but quickly became a part of many people’s everyday working lives. So, this tough economic time could be seen as an opportunity for your business to reset and focus on understanding your niche – as well as what’s important to you. This could be, for example, focusing on supporting your team or innovating new products/services.
One big growth opportunity for businesses during the pandemic was being flexible. For example, over the several lockdowns when restaurants across Europe were not allowed to open, many temporarily switched to store mode – selling products like bread or pasta that were in high demand. This is a learning to take forward into the challenging cost-of-living crisis. So think about ways you could do things differently – there may just be a growth opportunity in it.
When you need to think of ways to reduce costs, this can be a good opportunity to reveal any waste in your business. By using spend management technology – where you can clearly see all the money going in and out of your business at any one time – you may just find that you’re spending it on things that aren’t a priority, think unused subscriptions or unnecessary expenses. By reducing waste, you can take the saving or put the money into areas you believe will be more lucrative – like developing new products or services.
There are plenty of software options to choose from, such as Pleo, Soldo or Spendesk, depending on your needs and budget – and many come with a free trial period, so you can try before you buy.
Employees are one of your biggest assets, so keeping them happy should always be high up on your priority list – but this quieter time could be the perfect opportunity to focus on keeping them motivated.
Perhaps you could offer flexible schedules that can work around their other life commitments, such as school pick-up, care for a dependent relative or doctors’ appointments. Before doing this though, make sure you speak to them to find out what they’d find most valuable.
Another way to keep your team engaged is by recognising their accomplishments and hard work. This can also be done by organising internal monthly or quarterly (or annually, you decide!) competitions around the number of sales completed, events attended or an outstanding piece of work. The prize doesn’t need to be expensive, and could simply be recognition. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you involve your team and ask for their input.
Before you move forward, it’s important to know that trying to do everything might not work.
Our advice? Don’t fall into the trap of trying it all at once. Instead, take a step back to really focus on what’s working well for your business and what you could do more of. Find out what your unique selling point is and what areas of focus you are most likely to bring the best opportunities. Perhaps your time is best spent finding solutions to current challenges. For example, if you face competition from larger businesses, you could work on giving your customers a more bespoke service.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, looking into sales data and speaking with customers to understand what they’d like to see are just two ways to help you focus. Customer feedback is priceless and can help you see your business’ strong points, as well as what needs a bit more work.
The most common way to gather customer feedback is through email. Many services are provided or booked online, so why not drop them an email asking how their experience with your business was? To make it easy for customers, you can use free email marketing tools like MailChimp or Sendinblue to create a survey that will only take them a few minutes to fill in.
Every business is different, and the challenges faced as a result of the cost-of-living crisis will vary widely. However, this doesn’t mean you need to halt all growth. Tough times can be a good opportunity for a reset, giving you the time to focus on what matters most and find solutions to make your business stronger.
Available Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm, our friendly team are here to provide guidance and support on the topics that matter to your business.